LAST years silver medallists Pakistan defeated Argentina 4-2 in the opening match of the 21st Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
They almost squandered a 2-0 lead before scoring the winner five minutes from time to take all three points.
It was however a scrappy performance from both teams as they tried to get accustomed to the blue pitch, similar to the surface in Olympics in London this July.
It was a rather slow start to the match as both the teams opted to hold on to the ball instead of throwing numbers forward.
Thus it was a boring opening ten minutes as there was hardly a shot a goal, let alone a penalty corner.
The first real opening fell to Pakistan as Shabbir Ahmad Khan was not picked up by defenders in the semi circle and his snap shot was well kept out by Argentina’s custodian Juan Manuel Vivaldi.
Pakistan were awarded a penalty corner in the 22nd minute and although the ever reliable Sohail Abbas was on the pitch, a poor stop foiled any decent attempt on goal.
Argentina too failed to take advantage of a penalty corner in the 29th minute when the attempt by Pedro Ibarra deflected off the stick of another Argentine player and went wide.
But Pakistan were not to be denied as two minutes before halftime Muhammad Irfan was put through by Shafqat Rasool and his shot sailed into goal past a rooted Vivaldi.
Argentina had an opportunity to draw level in the 46th minute when Irfan was adjudged to have fouled Santiago Montelli. But it was muffed as they failed to stop cleanly.
A penalty corner to Pakistan in the 46th minute dealt a double blow for the South American side. Ibarra was yellow carded for breaking the penalty corner defence and Sohail Abbas then stepped up to convert the penalty corner, giving Pakistan a 2-0 lead.
Argentina reduced the deficit in the 53rd minute as Gonzalo Peillat scored off a penalty corner with Ibarra still on the sidelines.
In the 62nd minute it was all square when Mathias Parades sneaked up behind the defence to slot the ball home after a through ball by Mathias Villa.
Pakistan were stunned and upped the ante. They were duly rewarded as Haseem Khan deflected a shot by Irfan from the right in the 65th minute to put Pakistan 3-2 ahead.
Muhammad Waqas completed the scoring, deflecting in a shot on the left by Shabbir Ahmad Khan to give Pakistan a 4-2 win.